For the three days which passed afterward while waiting for Martleby the craftsman to deliver Jaxan’s bed, it was business as usual at the Bakery. I had added Bagels to the menu as well, cut in half and slathered with Jam or Honey. I had taken to sketching some interior design ideas to perhaps talk over with the craftsman that Zedron introduced us to. I really wanted to make the store into something like a deli or actual bread shop, where people could eventually pick out the things they want, but I think that step is a bit far into the future still.
As long as nothing is priced over a silver, we can move it with relative ease. Doughnuts are sold similarly so, since they are smaller and less filling, and, the fried and sugar coated dough balls are sold in batches of six pieces for 2 copper. They consume far less dough to make, and so a multitude of them can be made quite easily.
Tuna fish is unfortunately not possible. There is a river close by, but I can’t identify the species, and with all the work necessary to clean, gut, and fillet them before even beginning the mincing work… it’s just not time effective for all that I have to do, even with Jaxan’s help.
In the afternoon we all enjoy sup. I made potato fries for the family as well as some ketchup to go along with the mayonnaise so everyone was free to enjoy their topping. I appreciated Trevorkane more since us two guys were both aficionados of ketchup far more than mayonnaise as a dipping sauce.
One particular meal was me trying to recreate hamburger steak patties adding flour and water to make a gravy, and then topping the fries with it as well. It wasn’t quite a Poutine, but it was well received. Burgers didn’t really exist in any form in this world until now, after all.
By now, Nefe had memorized her times tables up to her twelves, and so for one day, I convinced Tally to let her run the counter for a day. I also wanted an excuse to be closer to my wife in the kitchen.
Jaxan did her household duties diligently, and had become something of a nanny to them before bedtime. And when the children were asleep, and the three of us were in the bedroom we shared, in the same bed no less… Jaxan got her fill of sexual education classes.
“Have you gotten used to it yet, Jaxan?” My wife asked her as I lay behind, resting my hand on her stomach and pressing her body firmly into my own.
“Y-yeah. I… think I understand how it’s done.”
My wife reached over to stroke her hair.
“It’s almost a pity your bed will arrive soon. I was enjoying the added warmth at night.”
“What, Gar? Jealous?”
I sighed. “Now how could that be?”
My wife giggled. “Now, there is a special lesson I have planned for you tonight Jaxan, for when you will have your own bed.”
“A special lesson?” She asked, and the look on her face had me extremely worried now.
What happened next was beyond my imagination. My wife had instructed her to get undressed, and when Jaxan so easily did, my wife released herself from my hold and taught our young roommate the joys of self-satisfaction.
Yep. Both of them were buttering their breadbaskets at the same time on the same bed I was on, and I really think Tally was enjoying messing with me like this. The worst part was, Jaxan kept making eye contact with me as she did so, as if she was trying to appeal to me, or perhaps she was uncovering some strange exhibitionist kink.
Either way, the bed would be here tomorrow, and if it wasn’t, I’d be willing to issue an actual apology to that crazy goddess to make it happen anyway. Jaxan’s cute, but as recently, and happily I might add, married man, is she out of her mind?
Having to hear the cute whimpers of my wife’s household slave as she continued on while my wife engaged me, not satisfied at all with doing it by herself, the night ended peacefully enough with a satisfied look on both of their faces.
“Alright, it’s done.” Martleby the craftsman said, as he finished the last bit of joining with his hammer. The bed had been completed, and along with a new mattress, Jaxan now had her own bed. The room became a bit of a tight fit, and where the chamber pot was originally located now had to be moved nearer to my desk, but it was done and over with.
I didn’t have to worry about anyone sleeping in our bed now, except for my wife and I!
The mattress was fitted to the bed next thing, and along with it were two pillows. With the job done, Martleby came downstairs to the bakery to receive the promised cookies, as well as to listen to my suggestions for what I wanted to do to the bakery.
I had taken him to each section and described how I envisioned it to look. It was all standard stuff until I described the display case.
“You wish to copy the jewelers in the noble district?”
I was informed that display cases existed, however it was the design of mine which was a new concept for the bald bear-like craftsman. I was given a quote on the price and how long it would take. Thankfully it wasn’t too lengthy a time.
“If I give you priority, at most it would take under two weeks.”
“And what would getting this priority entail?” I had felt the need to ask. No less than two of the fried doughnuts entered into his mouth in a single bite. He’d nearly obliterated the entire dozen I had put aside from him to sample.
“One tradesman to another, why not help each other out that way?” He suggested, though the tradesman here was actually my wife, and not myself. “The material cost aside, the labor is the issue. I’m willing to do it in exchange for more of these delightful things. Only ever once had honey-cakes when I was making a grand dining table at this Viscount’s place some years ago. Got slipped one by a maid who uh…” he coughed. “Never mind that. Point is, the things you make here beat-all!”
“So, what you’re saying is, you’ll drop by and begin remodeling in exchange for material costs and… treats?”
He grinned wide. “One of the reasons I keep a good friendship with ol’ Zed. His deals always end with me left smiling.”
I put out my hand for him to shake. “Then shall we both be left smiling after it’s done?”
The agreement was for Martleby to come by after the shop closes until sundown each day and begin constructing all the things we need. In return he will be joining us for both sup and will be supplied with whatever type of snack food that happens to interest him. It’s a fair trade in my opinion, though a leaning more in my favor. That’s the thing about being in a trade. That the value of what you can produce can fluctuate depending on the needs or wants of the other party. It’s not always a guarantee they need or want what you have to offer, but when the pieces fit, it’s a happy day.
With things flowing smoothly as they have been, two weeks passed by. Today is yet another day the store is closed, and just the day before Zedron sent an employee to let me know his shipment had arrived. That meant one important thing: Banana Bread was back on the menu!
Taking a trip with everyone to Zedron’s Store, all of us dressed up in the nice new clothes which had been made by Tally’s seamstress friend, Callonika. Zed, greeting each of us by name pleasantly and grandiosely as always, accepted the parcel which I had brought him.
It contained a few of the everyday things being made at the bakery, as well as a few of my new experimental products. I felt like I was running out of ideas, and hoping that maybe if there are some good find from this shipment, my options will expand. It also contained a blank book instead of loose papers, and it was almost full to the brim with booster pack card drafts. I had created nearly 200 more, not including the three prefabricated decks, and with this last bit, Zedron will be able to being the production of the game this month, according to him.
After the brief formalities, I was introduced to someone named Tinn. A person wearing a mask and a tan hooded cloak.
“I told you about contracting a mage who would keep things as chill as a winter’s night as you suggested. This is Magister Tinn, who had been instrumental in bringing all the exports possible to obtain from the southern isles back without rotting.”
“Pleased to meet you Magister.” I greeted the person.
They were small in size, only a little bit bigger than Jaxan. I couldn’t discern if the person was a male or a female, but that was irrelevant if they were going to wear a mask. Clearly their identity was something they valued.
The Magister didn’t greet me, or any of us back with words, only a slight bow.
“So, shall we get on with it Gardavan? Come, Thalica my sweet, and both my dear niece and nephew. You will find all find a ripened yellow banana quite delicious!”
From the sound of it, Zedron had sampled his own supply already. The place where we went to was down a slope in a separate room. As it turns out, there was a basement level here.
“Has this always been here, Zedron?” I asked.
“Yes, but I recently had some changes done to it. Now this room is a cold storage facility.”
“It’s a cooler!?” I blurted out loudly. “How is this possible?”
There was no electricity, and no hum of any kind of fans… but it was a hell of a lot cooler than the floor above.
“This is thanks to the Magic Tower, and of course Magister Tinn.”
“So it’s… magic that’s keeping it cold?”
“What else would it be, Gardavan?”
“Nothing… I uh… just didn’t know. I’ve never seen magic before.”
I received strange looks from both Tally and Zedron right then and there. Was I strange for having yet to encounter any? I know that it exists, but it’s not like it’s used in our household, and I hardly go out except here to his shop, or when Tally wishes me to accompany her somewhere. I’ve also played outside with the kids as well, but nothing past a game of hide-and-seek really.
The matter was over in a moment though, and a bit further in were a vast number of large crates. Opening up the first of six which weren’t stacked revealed the first jackpot.
I held up the fuzzy brown tree fruit and began to dance a little bit in place.
“It’s a coconut, Tally! I was wanting these so badly!”
“What’s a coconut?” Nefe asked.
“It’s a special type of fruit with a hard outer shell, but when cracked open and the fruit inside scooped out, dried, and sliced, it can make some pretty amazing things! The first thing that comes to mind is a Macaroon!”
“Mack-a-rune?” the little princess repeated, “What’s that?”
“It’s special kind of cookie made with shredded coconut.” I looked through the next crate, and came across the second hidden gem.
“Heck yeah, a pineapple!” I held up the prickly fruit as well. “Zedron, you’ve outdone yourself!”
“Hoh hoh hoh, have I now?” he said, stroking his wispy beard as usual. “Another thing for making cookies?”
“Pineapples, Coconuts, and Lemons… makes me think of a couple of really nice things to make, cakes and cake bars most likely. Pineapple jam is also possible. It looks like I’m going to be busy trying out a few things… figuring out how to dry and toast a coconut is going to be fun.”
“You don’t know how?” my wife asked me, surprised.
“Dehydration is probably the best way. Put some in an oven on a low heat, maybe just hotter than the hottest day in summer, for a few hours. This is just a guess in how to prepare it for baking however, the shredded coconut I always used came pre-shredded in sack like flour, only about one eighth the size which was purchasable from a store.”
Continuing on I found even more tropical gems. Papayas, Mangoes, and Avocadoes. It dawned on me, holding a fat green avocado in hand, that guacamole was now possible to make.
“Anyone want tacos?”
“What’s a taco? The thing you’re holding?” Trev asked as he pointed at the avocado.
“This? This is an avocado, and with it we can make guacamole for tacos! It’s an essential condiment like ketchup or mayonnaise. I’m feeling really motivated now! I just wish I had the right kind of cheese…”
Zedron had been trying to secure a soft moist cheese for me, but has been so busy with various endeavors, I can’t fault the guy for all he has done in supplying us with just about anything reasonable I can ask for without access to a global delivery network.
“But this is a good enough haul for now. How much can we buy from you?”
“These six crates were put aside for you. If I can’t sell the others, they will remain available. Two gold coins a crate is as low as I can offer you.”
“Twelve gold…” I whistled. “…can we pay half up front?”
“That will be fine. I’m also curious as to what new creations I have to look forward to trying.”
“Zedron… you bought these to sell to the nobility, didn’t you?”
“About how much do you expect to sell each crate for?”
“That’s part of why I summoned you here. Aside from the bananas, I’m not sure exactly how to market these things, however seeing what you create from each one may help me best decide on a price. I figure at the low end, maybe five to ten gold a crate.”
So we just landed on an eighty percent trial discount?
“Sold. Would it be possible to keep some of these here temporarily? I'd hate for them to rot before I can use it all.”
“Not a problem. I have contracted Magister Tinn to work with me for three months, this room will maintain temperature until then.”
I let out a deep sigh. “I would kill for even a box about yea big,” I shaped with my hands the dimensions for a refrigerator, “that separated into one half that was as cold as this room, and one half that was cold enough to freeze water.”
“Whatever for?” Zedron asked.
“There are things which can only be made when chilled to a certain point. In lieu of heavy cream, I can substitute coconut milk, and with my jams, I can boil them down a bit further and create many different flavors. They aren’t meant to be large serving sizes, but you can’t beat them on a hot day. The problem is, as lies in the name, it needs to be kept for a few hours once prepared in a space cold enough to turn water into ice. Coconut, peanut butter, and strawberry are all quite tasty.”
“Strawberries you say?”
“Yeah. Are they available?”
“They are… however it’s an exclusive product of the royal family. Only they are allowed to distrubute it… Even I would have great difficulty in obtaining any.” The Master Merchant informed me, to my sadness. “However this box you wish for… Martleby had mentioned you had drawn a schematic for a display case. Perhaps if you could do the same, I can have Magister Tinn here consult with the Magic Tower, and something can be done.
“I’m not beneath bribery if it means I could get my hands on one.” I said, shamelessly.
“Then, I will have a portion of each of these fruits delivered to your store later today. Perhaps if they have a reason to take interest in your unique recipes, they may be willing to have a long consideration to your request for a... cold box.”
A wide smile crept on my face. It stayed there all the way home until when we arrived and saw three hooded figures standing outside of the bakery. All of them were wearing cloaks, and of the three, two of them had a huge frame, and a sword at the hip.
When we got close, the two men stepped in front of the third, protectively, their hands moving to the pommel of their weapons.
My wife stepped forward, fearlessly.
“Is there a reason you lot are blocking entry to my home? If you can’t read the sign, then the door being locked should be your clue that we’re closed for business today.”
The third person stepped forward between the two large men.
“My apologies. This is the Ashford Bakery, is it not?”
“It is.” My wife answered.
Then the hood fell back, and after a moment, my wife immediately fell to her knees. Jaxan immediately grabbed both of the children by the neck and forced them down to their knees along with her. I was left standing and staring, ignorantly, at a woman who was at best a moderate blonde-haired beauty.
One who just so happened to have recently had her first taste of sweets not so easily obtained, even in the royal palace. I was the only one unaware that the person standing before me, was none other than Her Majesty, The First Princess of Avondale…
Trustine Alia Avondale.